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DXA Scan





Frequently Asked Questions about Osteoporosis


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Q. What is osteoporosis?

A. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones weaken and become porous, brittle and prone to fracture. People with osteoporosis often break bones in the hip, spine and/or wrist.  Learn more about osteoporosis.

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Q. Who gets osteoporosis?

A. Both men and women can get osteoporosis at any age, but it is more common in older adults and most common in older women.  Learn more about risk factors.
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Q. What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

A. Many risk factors contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis. Some are inherited. You can control others through lifestyle changes. Risk factors you can’t change include:

  • Female gender
  • Age over 65
  • Age 50 or older with previous bone fracture
  • Peri- or post-menopause status
  • Early menopause (before age 45)
  • Thin or small build
  • White or Asian race
  • Family history

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Q. What osteoporosis risk factors can be controlled?

A. Diet and lifestyle can affect your risk for osteoporosis. Controllable risk factors include:

  • Calcium and vitamin D intake—consume low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese or foods fortified with calcium.
  • Eating disorders—low food intake can increase osteoporosis risk
  • Lack of activity or bed rest—exercise strengthens bones
  • Smoking—quitting smoking can help bones, heart and lungs
  • Alcohol—limit consumption to two drinks a day for men, one drink a day for women
  • Sex hormones—low estrogen levels in women or low testosterone in men can cause osteoporosis
  • Medication—long-term use of some medications, including steroids, can interfere with bone rebuilding

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Q. Is a bone density test the same as a bone scan?

A. No. A bone scan requires an injection of radioactive material. A bone density test is faster and requires no special preparation. It provides different information than a bone scan.
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Q. What is the difference between a Sahara heel scan and a DEXA scan?

A. The two scans use different technologies to measure bone density. The Sahara scan uses ultrasound. The DEXA scan uses X-ray technology.

A Sahara heel scan shows whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis and helps your physician decide if you need further evaluation by a DEXA scan.  The DEXA scan (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) is a simple, non-invasive X-ray that looks at your lower spine, hip and/or wrists. You’ll find out where you’re most at risk and how to prevent a future fracture. The DEXA scan is the most accurate way to measure bone mineral density, it’s fast and uses very low doses of radiation. If the DEXA scan determines you do have osteoporosis, we’ll be right there to help you.
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Q. How much radiation will I be exposed to with a DEXA scan?

A. In most cases, your radiation exposure will be a fraction of what you would receive from a standard chest X-ray. As with any medical procedure, be sure to inform your physician and the technologist if you could be pregnant.  Learn more about radiation safety.
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